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A Quiet Night

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For all that we liked to tease Toby about the constant chaos of her life, quiet, uneventful nights like this were far more common than ones that were spent racing from one near-death experience to the next. Lucky for us. I'm probably unkillable, but even that level of constant crisis might have done me in.

I rubbed my thumb across the front of my neck and sighed. In another few weeks, the scar would be gone completely. It'd be nice to not have to wear ribbons or scarves every time I left the house. I mean, I like wearing them, but when I wanted to, not because I looked like a reject from a children's horror story.

Still, nothing to be done about it but wait for it to finish healing. And speaking of ribbons... I leaned over and rummaged around in the brightly painted picnic basket by my feet, then pulled out a few spools of ribbon. I needed to find the right trim for the skirt I was planning. The fabric was blue with red and yellow polka dots, and I tried out shimmery orange and bright pink ribbons before settling on neon green satin. "Perfect." Now to find the right thread...

"What's perfect?"

I looked up and grinned at Jazz, who was leaning in the doorway with a stack of ledgers in her arms. "The skirt I'm gonna make," I said, gesturing at the battered sewing machine perched on one end of the dining room table.

She walked into the room and leaned over my head to peer at it. "You finally got it cleaned up?"

"Yep. Nothing a little rubbing alcohol and a lot of magic couldn't fix."

Jazz chuckled and bent her head to press a kiss to my hair before stepping away. My smile went a little goofy; even after all this time, she still had that effect on me. I have plenty of memories of being loved, but none of those memories were mine. Jazz cleared a spot on the table and dropped her pile of books, revealing the calculator and pencils she'd had pinned to her chest. I wrinkled my nose. "Accounting time again?"

"Yeah," she said with a sigh. "My least favorite part of owning a business."

I selected a spool of bright green thread. "And you can't really glamour the whole IRS, huh."

"Much as I'd like to sometimes."

Ah, for the days when taxes were as straightforward as a sack of coins. Much easier to make a bunch of dandelions look like gold than it was to fool a computer system. I dug a bobbin out of the machine case and started winding it while Jazz frowned at her books, muttering to herself and poking at her calculator. I'd offer to help, but Faerie's most convoluted and capricious bindings have nothing on the American tax code. Jazz knew what numbers she needed to make everything work out.

I heard muffled voices from the living room, recognizable but indistinct for a few moments before Toby said, "Shut up, you jerk." Tybalt laughed and said something in reply. Toby flounced down the hall and appeared in the dining room doorway, halfway out of her jacket. "Hey Jazz, May," she said.

"Hey, Tobes." She disappeared from view for a moment as she went to hang up her jacket. "You two have a nice date?"

The smile on her face was the mirror of the one I'd had minutes earlier, and it answered my question before she said a word. "Yeah," she said, nodding. "Yeah, we did." She glanced at Jazz's books and made a face. "We were gonna put the TV on-- is that gonna be too much noise?"

Jazz shook her head. "As long as you keep the door closed, it'll be fine."

"Can do." Toby started across the dining room for the kitchen. "You guys want popcorn? I'm making some so I have something to throw at Tybalt when he starts complaining about the accents."

"Popcorn sounds great,” I said.

Toby nodded again as she stepped into the kitchen. I hummed to myself and started threading the sewing machine. It had been a while since I'd done any sewing-- not since I'd been a Fetch, actually-- but I more or less remembered how it went. Measuring out the fabric had been easy enough, at least. And it was just a skirt. It wouldn't be that complicated.

Except for pinning the ribbon to the fabric. I'd forgotten that part. I heaved a sigh and went rummaging around in my basket again. The pins found me first; I yelped as one of them jabbed me in the finger, then yanked my hand back. "Ow..."

"You okay?" Jazz asked.

"My sewing supplies are attacking me." I reached back into the basket, a bit more carefully this time, and carefully scooped out a pile of pins.

I was about halfway done with the ribbon when Toby returned, carrying two bowls of popcorn. "Here you go," she said, depositing one of them on a pile of fliers and unopened mail.

"Thanks," Jazz said, reaching for the bowl without looking up from the calculator.

Toby disappeared into the hall, and I heard "King Lear? Really?" before the living room door swung shut. I chuckled and shook my head.

Near-silence fell over the room, the muffled sound of the TV and the scratching of Jazz’s pencil providing comfortable background noise. I don’t like total silence. The flock was never silent; true silence meant being alone, and I’ve never been very good at that. Lucky for me I got called as a Fetch for the most unintentionally magnetic woman in Faerie. It gave me a house full of sound, yowling cats and chirping rose goblins and teenage boys clattering down the stairs. “Hi May Hi Jazz,” Quentin called as he ran through the room to grab his jacket.

I glanced at the clock on the wall, added an hour and a half (someday one of us really needed to reset the darn thing), and smirked. “You’re late for your lessons, aren’t you.”

“Got caught up in a call back home,” he said and headed down the hall. “Hey, Toby, can you dri--” Quentin pushed open the door and cut off his question mid-word, then immediately started backing away. “Uh, never mind.”

“October is otherwise occupied at the moment,” Tybalt called, sounding distinctly amused.

“I can see that.” Quentin grimaced as he came back down the hall. “Ugh. Etienne is gonna kill me.”

“If you run you can catch the next bus,” I said.

“Yeah.” Quentin waved at us, then bolted for the door. It slammed shut behind him, and I shook my head, chuckling. Poor kid. He had a long night ahead of him. I slid the last pins into place on the skirt, then leaned back in my chair and let out a sigh.

“Something wrong?” Jazz asked.

I shook my head and smiled. “Nope,” I said, getting to my feet. “Just the opposite.” I leaned down and kissed her cheek as I passed by her chair. “You want something to drink?”

“Water would be great,” she said, then paused and examined her hands. “And some paper towels. I don’t want to send in my reports with buttery fingerprints.”

“You got it.”